A close finish for Citroen Junior Team
The second day of the Cyprus Rally, which took place on gravel roads that were typical of the Mediterranean island, allowed the Citroen Junior Team drivers to make up a few places in the overall classification. The three Citroen C4 WRCs of Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia, Evgeny Novikov/Dale Moscatt and Conrad Rautenbach/Daniel Barritt ended up in a formation finish overnight covering sixth to eighth places. Heading into the final day, the three crews are now perfectly poised to score valuable points.

After an opening day on asphalt, the remainder of the Cyprus Rally took place on gravel stages through the famous Troodos Mountains.

To add to the difficulties of what was already an extremely complex route, heavy storms had turned today’s special stages into a muddy quagmire overnight. These conditions caught out Sebastien Ogier on Pano Panagia (SS8). « What with the mud that covered the windscreen and the bright sunshine, I was caught by surprise on the entry into a corner and we rolled » he reported. Sebastien lost two minutes with the incident, but the Equipe de France FFSA-backed driver was able to make it back to the service park.

There, the mechanics were able to put his C4 WRC back into working order, and the young charger was able to give his all again in the afternoon. He returned to Limassol in sixth place overnight. « I felt quite comfortable on dry roads, » he said. « Luckily, we were able to take advantage of these more favourable conditions to set some good times during the second loop of stages. Tomorrow we’re going to try and get fifth place. »

Evgeny Novikov continued to climb his learning curve. On his first day behind the wheel of the Citroen C4 WRC on his favoured surface, the Russian made sensible progress and concluded the day with a third-fastest time in Kourdali. « I just wanted to consolidate at the start of the day and then at the end of it we made good progress » he said. « We changed some of the settings, particularly the differential, which worked well. I’m quite satisfied with our performances. Tomorrow we’re going to continue at this pace. »

Conrad Rautenbach broke into the top eight this morning. The Zimbabwean remained consistent in order to protect his position. « The Citroen C4 WRC is a great car, but it took me a little bit of time to find a good feeling on these very different and extremely slippery surfaces, » he reported. « Tomorrow we’re going to try and take some points, which would be an excellent reward for our efforts. »

« Evgeny, Conrad and Sébastien are continuing to learn as the rally goes on, » concluded Benoit Nogier, the Citroen Junior Team manager. « After a few mistakes in the morning, they showed themselves to be more competitive during the second loop in the afternoon. Evgeny has developed the promising habit of ending each day with a strong performance. We’re counting on all our drivers to continue like this and bring us back some decent points tomorrow. »

The final day of the Cyprus Rally will take competitors to the North West for three all-gravel special stages, including one that is longer than 40 kilometres. The final podium is scheduled for 14:45 on the seafront in Limassol.

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